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NFL Picks: The Spreads We’ve Already Bet For Week 5

NFL Picks: The Spreads We’ve Already Bet For Week 5 article feature image

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images. Pictured: Matt Ryan

With a quarter of the 2020 NFL season in the books, our staff is looking ahead to the next week.

Find out which picks they’ve already made for Week 5 below.

Week 5 NFL Picks

Click on a pick to skip ahead to that analysis.

Panthers +115 ML at Falcons
Panthers +2.5 at Falcons
Bengals +13.5 at Ravens
Seahawks -7 vs. Vikings

Raheem Palmer: Panthers +2.5, +115 ML at Falcons

With the Atlanta Falcons falling to 0-4 after Monday night’s 30-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Dan Quinn is on the short list of coaches who could lose his job soon. The market is pricing the Falcons’ upcoming game against the Carolina Panthers as a buy-low spot, but given the circumstances, how can you lay points — let alone back this team?

Quinn is a defensive-minded coach, but the Falcons haven’t been particularly inspiring on defense for most of his tenure.

It’s bad enough when you allow two consecutive fourth-quarter comebacks of 14 or more points, but this season they’re second in yards per game (448.2), second in points allowed per game (34.5), 29th in passing success rate, 20th in rushing success rate and 25th in explosive play rate (plays of 20 or more yards). The Falcons gave up 18 explosive plays over the first three games, so a matchup against a Packers team without its top two wide receivers in Davante Adams and Allen Lazard seemed like an ideal spot to turn things around. Atlanta proceeded to open the game giving up plays of 20 or more yards on three of Green Bay’s first nine plays from scrimmage.

The only thing this defense has proven it can stop is Mitchell Trubisky.

The Falcons have also been riddled with injuries this season: They’ve been without starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen as well as starting cornerbacks A.J. Terrell and Darqueze Dennard. Then things got worse on Monday night as Julio Jones left the game with a nagging hamstring injury and the Falcons lost key pieces in their secondary in safety Damontae Kazee (Achilles) and strong safety Jaylinn Hawkins (concussion).

Now the Falcons host the Panthers on a short week.

panthers vs bucs week 2 odds
Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: Teddy Bridgewater

The Panthers didn’t come into this season with high expectations, but they’ve proven to be competitive in every game. My model makes this game a pick’em, but I view this as more of a fade of the Falcons than a play on the Panthers.

I liked this better at +3.5, but I still like it at +2.5 — I think the Panthers have a chance at winning this one outright, so if it ticks down to +2 or lower, I would recommend just playing the moneyline instead. The Panthers also make a good Stanford Wong teaser leg to pair with New Orleans (Panthers +8.5/Saints -1.5).

The sand in the hourglass is ticking on Quinn’s tenure in Atlanta, and a loss here just might be the end.

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Mike Randle: Panthers +2.5 at Falcons

How much more do we need to see from Atlanta?

From any possible angle, the play here is to take the Panthers with the points:

  • Quinn is 18-33 (35%) against the spread as a favorite over his five-year coaching tenure in Atlanta, as highlighted by my colleague Matthew Freedman.
  • The Falcons defense ranks second-worst in points allowed per game (34.5).
  • Their pass defense has allowed the second-most passing yards per game (341.5).
  •  Julio Jones left Monday’s game at halftime after re-aggravating his hamstring injury while Calvin Ridley finished with zero receptions.
  • The Falcons have a multitude of injuries in their secondary (as outlined by Raheem above).
  • The Panthers have won two games in a row and QB Teddy Bridgewater is coming off his best game of the season (276 passing yards and 3 total touchdowns).

This could very well be Quinn’s last game as the head coach. I would take the Panthers down to +2, but as always, shop for the best current line with our NFL odds tool.

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Matthew Freedman: Bengals +13.5 at Ravens

The Bengals intrigue me this week for a couple of reasons.

First, I’ve noticed that road underdogs tend to outperform against the spread (ATS) when they play within division, offering investors a vig-beating return on investment (ROI).

  • Divisional Road Dogs: 540-474-33 ATS | 3.8% ROI
  • Non-Divisional Road Dogs: 901-883-56 ATS | -1.3% ROI

A 3.8% ROI might not seem like much, but over a sample this large it’s significant. And we can dig further into this sample to discover more value.

I have this theory: Early in the year, when divisional opponents tend to face each other for the first time, road dogs have an undeniable edge relative to the market. Later in the year, when divisional rivals are more familiar with each other and their markets are more efficient, road dogs are disadvantaged when they meet for their rematch.

At least that’s my theory, and it’s born out by the regular-season numbers.

  • Divisional Road Dogs (Sep. – Nov.): 354-280-23 ATS | 8.8% ROI
  • Divisional Road Dogs (Dec. – Jan.): 186-194-10 ATS | -4.6% ROI

Still in the early days of October, the Bengals are in the sweet spot of this trend.

Additionally, as great as the Ravens are, opponents are actually 10-4 ATS (38.3%) against them when quarterback Lamar Jackson is a home favorite.

I would bet the Bengals down to +10.5 (-110).

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Brandon Anderson: Seahawks -7 vs. Vikings

I locked in the Seahawks early last week and I’m locking them in again.

The Seahawks continue to be underrated in the market despite their torrid start, and I get it — it’s been the same story in Seattle for so long now that it feels like their story is written. They run, run, run, play lots of defense, and only break the Russell Wilson glass in case of emergency.

The only thing is that none of that is true this season.

Seattle’s defense has been porous and beatable, and the Seahawks continue to be aggressive passing on early downs. Wilson has an NFL-record 16 passing touchdowns through four games after “only” two this past week. Wilson is shredding secondaries, and Minnesota’s secondary is particularly shreddable.

The Vikings cleaned house at cornerback this offseason and have a very young crew at the position that hasn’t found its footing yet, in part because they can’t stay on the field. We’ll see which corners are healthy enough to play, but you can bet that none of them can keep up with D.K. Metcalf or Tyler Lockett.

Wilson throws the best deep ball in the game, and the Vikings are vulnerable deep.

It feels like Russ can cook against this Minnesota defense anytime he pleases. He’s run roughshod over these Vikings before, and Mike Zimmer’s defense also struggles to contain Wilson when he gets out of the pocket and creates. That will only be tougher with Anthony Barr out for the season.

When grabbing a line early in the week, you’re looking to lock in a key number, and -7 is it. This is a Sunday night game, and money will come in on the favorite.

I think the Seahawks are closer to a 10-point favorite. Grab them at -7 while you can.

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